LeBron James has lost about 25 pounds on a low carb ketogenic-style Paleo diet. However, James insists the weight loss had nothing to do improving his basketball game.
James said he slimmed down to prove he has the willpower to accomplish any goal he sets for himself. “I’m 29 years old, and I can still fly above the rim. I don’t need to lose weight to do that,” LeBron told reporters at a Cleveland Cavaliers media day event.
“It had nothing to do with basketball. I should have wrote a letter about that to stop the speculations about why I did it.”
LeBron said he challenges himself every summer to achieve a certain goal, and this year, it was to follow a strict low carb Paleo diet that featured only protein, vegetables and low-starch fruit for 67 days straight.
“Every summer, I challenge myself to do something different that’s outside the box,” said James. “So I decided to do this particular diet this summer for two months. It had nothing to do with basketball, nothing at all. Once I set a goal, I like to accomplish it. In the process, I lost some weight.”
James said his weight loss has fueled rumors that he’s trying to preserve his aging knees, but he said that’s not case, and insisted his strict low carb diet helped realize just how low he could go with his weight, should he ever need to slim down.
“As I get older in my career, if I need to lose some weight, I know exactly where I can get down to,” he explained. “But it had nothing to do with basketball.”
The 6-foot-8 James told CNN he now weighs about 250 pounds and feels quicker on his feet. “I’m in the 250-ish range,” said LeBron. “A lot lighter than I’ve been playing at the last few years, but I feel good.”
LeBron wouldn’t reveal exactly how much weight he lost, but has since regained a few pounds and looks fuller than he did in August, when he made headlines after unveiling his dramatic weight loss.
However, James is still much leaner than he was last season. LeBron’s weight was listed at 250 pounds last season, but was actually more than 270 pounds, ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst revealed on a radio interview. “He has been a little self-conscious about that in recent years,” said Windhorst.
Windhorst said LeBron was inspired by the dramatic transformation of his former Miami Heat teammate Ray Allen, who got in superb condition after switching to the low carb Paleo diet in the summer of 2013. Allen, 39, came back from the summer break in significantly better shape than he was the previous year after adopting a low carb, sugar-free Paleo diet.
The lanky 6-foot-5 Ray, who lost 10 pounds after going Paleo, said the diet gave him better stamina and dramatically improved his post-workout recovery. Ray’s health turnaround also motivated his Miami Heat teammate Dwayne Wade to adopt the Paleo diet.
Low Carb Paleo and Ketogenic Diets Soar Among Athletes
There has been some debate about whether LeBron’s diet was pure Paleo or a ketogenic style Paleo diet that’s extremely low in carbs and higher in fat.
Ketosis expert Dr. Jeff Volek, a professor at Ohio State University, told Sports Illustrated James may have slimmed down on a low carb, high-fat ketogenic-style diet that forced his body to burn fat for fuel.
Volek said more athletes are now favoring low carb, high-fat diets such as the Paleo and ketogenic plans to lose weight fast and dramatically change their body fat composition.
Because athletes have historically followed high-carb, low-fat diets, Volek said the recent shift toward low-carb, high-fat diets represents a major paradigm shift. “This is the world turned upside down,” said Volek. “It is the completely opposite paradigm.”
Obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, co-author of Keto Clarity, said low-carb, high-fat diets like the ketogenic and Paleo plans provide sustained energy, accelerate weight loss and prevent diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
As James looks ahead to the 2014-2015 NBA season, he said his weight loss has made him faster on the court and a much more dangerous opponent. “And that’s not such a good thing for the competition,” he laughed.